Penguins general manager Ray Shero held court with the media today after the 3 p.m. trade deadline expires. He talked about the players he acquired in forwards Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak and briefly discussed the one player he did not acquire, Canucks forward Ryan Kesler:
On pursuing Kesler:
"We had inquired with them [the Canucks]. At the end of the day, obviously he was not traded. I don’t think there was a deal there to be made. A lot of the focus media-wise, was on Ryan Kesler. Not only Pittsburgh but around different media markets. He’s a real good player. But our goal was to increase our forward depth up front and help our forward group. I think we’ve accomplished that and not touched anybody off our roster. That was our main goal. With the [Pascal] Dupuis injury, with the Beau Bennett injury, it was important for us to try and do that. I think we’ve accomplished that. Hopefully, it’ makes it a better, deeper team."
On how Goc and Stempniak will be used in the lineup:
"I’ll leave it up to the coaches but the good thing on these players is they are very versatile guys. Can play different positions. Both penalty kill, power play. Can help our penalty kill, our second power-play unit. So what I think what’s important to us was the depth at our forward position. Players that have been in the league, played well in the league, that’s what I think we were looking for and to try to add to that. Where they’re going to play, that remains to be seen. There’s 20-plus games left in the regular season and I’m sure they’ll get opportunity around the lineup and kind of see where the best fit is."
Can Goc be used as a winger?
"I think the great thing with Marcel is that he is versatile. He’s been a very good center iceman, a very good penalty killer. Back in  he was a first-round draft pick but he’s really found his way in the league to become a very useful player and I think that’s what we were looking for. He was having a good year in Florida. I think he had a good year last year as well for them. It’s a guy we’ve had our eye on for a little while, including last year. I think the versatility of Goc is going to be important. We have some time here to move some guys around the lineup and see how they’re going to do."
Comparing this trade deadline to last year's trade deadline:
"I think every deadline is different. With the injuries that we have with [Paul] Martin, [Kris] Letang, [Tomas] Vokoun, and Beau Bennett, and [Pascal] Dupuis, if those guys are all healthy, we’re probably not doing anything because we’re a [salary] cap team and the cap went down $6 million. But it was important to us with these injuries that we improve up front. Last year was a different year in terms of an increased cap and the types of players we did pick up. What we did today hopefully is going to give us that opportunity to help out some of the players with our group and giving our coaching staff some options up front with makes us a better hockey team."
Did anything need to be done with the salary cap - such as putting players on long-term injured reserve - to get Goc and Stempniak on the roster?
"No. We’re fine right now with the salary cap. But these two moves gives us flexibility in terms of bringing back players off [long-term injured reserve] or [injured reserve], depending on where they’re going to be. We just don’t have a time frame yet for Beau Bennett. We don’t have one for Kris Letang or Paul Martin. We’ll see where that’s going to take us. That’s why without that time frame and knowing where we’re going to be, that’s why it was important to improve ourselves up front which hopefully we did."
Did you pursue any other big-name players?
"Yeah. Plenty of calls. Trying to find the right fit also and keeping in compliance with the salary cap. Lots of calls. A lot of activity actually I’d say over the last … I’d say … six hours. I think you’re always seeing what’s out there and trying to fit people in and if that makes sense for you and what the cost might be and where guys are going to fit on your team. Lots of activity but hopefully with the two guys we’ve got, that makes us a better team."
On how the coaching staff might use Goc and Stempniak:
"I think it just gives them different options. I think with Goc, who has proven to be a good NHL center iceman as well, whether you’ve got [Sidney Crosby] and [Brandon] Sutter down the middle with Goc, it gives you the opportunity to have [Malkin] play with [Crosby] a bit more. It gives Dan [Bylsma] that option. Or to go with four center or to move Goc to the wing. Different options because of the versatility of the players we have."
On the flexibility to remove players such as Tomas Vokoun from long-term injured reserve with Goc and Stempniak on the roster:
"That takes under consideration Paul Martin and things like that to have that flexibility. I don’t know where Tomas is going to be in a week or three weeks or a month versus being game ready and so forth but I wanted to have that possibility, especially on our defense. The good news on Paul Martin is he will be back at some point. I’m not sure if it’s right before the playoffs of the first game of the playoffs but we have the opportunity to bring him back. With Kris Letang, we’ll have to see where that goes but we’ll have to keep that in mind as well as far as what you have to work with salary cap-wise. Hopefully, it works out okay."
Dan Bylsma has talked about failing to find an identity for the third line this season. How have you viewed the third line this season?
"We picked up one, maybe two players today because of that. I think it was an area we needed to improve. That’s what as a group we set out to do at this deadline, was outside of any big splash or big name, was try to improve our depth on that third line or guys that can play on your third line and move around. I think we accomplished that and I think we needed to improve upon that for sure."
What does Stempniak offer?
"Lee’s a veteran guy. He has an ability to score goals, chip in offensively. He can play the power play, penalty kill. He’s strong on puck. A good experienced guy. Left or right winger, usually a right wing but he gives you that right-hand shot. Depth and versatility to our forward group which I think we needed."
Is Stempniak a first- or third-liner?
"I’ll leave that to the coaches as usual and they’ll try to find the best fits for guys and see if some guys click but we have 20 games to do that. But the versatility is a bonus and we’ll see where they go. If at some point we get Beau Bennett back, I’m not sure. These guys [Goc and Stempniak] will hopefully be in San Jose tomorrow and might be in the lineup tomorrow night. If not, the next night hopefully. We’ll see where they go and where the fit might be."
Last year, you dealt a number of prospects and high draft picks. This year, it was only mid-range draft picks. Was it important to retain some of your higher-end assets?
"Yeah. Last year, we didn’t have a first and a second-round draft pick at the deadline then at the draft, we recoup the second-round pick and use that on the young goalie [Tristan] Jarry which we’re really happy with. I sit here right now and say, ‘Am I glad I didn’t trade our first-round pick?’ Absolutely. You’re trying to do the right thing possible for the team with the salary cap and so forth. I’m happy we kept our first-round pick this year and first pick in  and traded a few mid-range things that you may be able to get back over the course of the next year or two. To add a couple guys to our lineup without taking anybody off our team or trading a real-life prospect is better for us."
(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)